Panel votes to allow veterans to seek care closer to home

A pilot program approved by the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday may make it easier for veterans who live far away from the nearest hospital to receive the care they need.

The bill would allow some veterans who live more than 60 miles away from a VA hospital to receive services at a local health facility.

"I'm glad to see we are inching our way forward for our veterans from rural areas," said Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

Several members of the committee pointed out the difficulty rural veterans have in reaching health care, whether they live on farms or in other remote areas.

The bill also provides an exception to the mileage rule, allowing veterans to access care in other facilities if it is determined that travel would be a hardship or that the travel is "not in the best interests of the veteran." That determination would be made by the VA.

The bill is on track to reach the House floor before the August recess.

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